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How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books

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Over forty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a very special family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children’s books. In Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Mrs. Milne showed them the way to “that enchanted place on the top of the Forest [where] a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” In Edinburgh the Over forty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a very special family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children’s books. In Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Mrs. Milne showed them the way to “that enchanted place on the top of the Forest [where] a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” In Edinburgh they stood outside Robert Louis Stevenson’s childhood home, tilting their heads to talk to a lamplighter who was doing his job. In the Lake District they visited Jemima Puddle-Duck’s farm, and Joan sought out crusty Arthur Ransome to talk to him about Swallows and Amazons. They spent several days “messing about in boats” on the River Thames, looking for Toad Hall and other places described by Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows. Mud and flood kept them from attaining the slopes of Pook’s Hill (on Rudyard Kipling’s farm), but they scaled the heights of Tintagel. As in all good fairy tales, there were unanswered questions. Did they really find Camelot? Robin Hood, as always, remains elusive. One thing is certain. Joan Bodger brings alive again the magic of the stories we love to remember. She persuades us that, like Emily Dickinson, even if we “have never seen a moor,” we can imagine “how the heather looks.” First published in 1965 by Viking in New York, How the Heather Looks has become a prized favorite among knowledgeable lovers of children’s literature. Precious, well-thumbed copies have been lent out with caution and reluctance, while new admirers have gone searching in vain for copies to buy second-hand. This handsome reprint, with a new Afterword by Joan Bodger, makes a unique and delightful classic available once more.


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Over forty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a very special family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children’s books. In Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Mrs. Milne showed them the way to “that enchanted place on the top of the Forest [where] a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” In Edinburgh the Over forty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a very special family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children’s books. In Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Mrs. Milne showed them the way to “that enchanted place on the top of the Forest [where] a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” In Edinburgh they stood outside Robert Louis Stevenson’s childhood home, tilting their heads to talk to a lamplighter who was doing his job. In the Lake District they visited Jemima Puddle-Duck’s farm, and Joan sought out crusty Arthur Ransome to talk to him about Swallows and Amazons. They spent several days “messing about in boats” on the River Thames, looking for Toad Hall and other places described by Kenneth Grahame in The Wind in the Willows. Mud and flood kept them from attaining the slopes of Pook’s Hill (on Rudyard Kipling’s farm), but they scaled the heights of Tintagel. As in all good fairy tales, there were unanswered questions. Did they really find Camelot? Robin Hood, as always, remains elusive. One thing is certain. Joan Bodger brings alive again the magic of the stories we love to remember. She persuades us that, like Emily Dickinson, even if we “have never seen a moor,” we can imagine “how the heather looks.” First published in 1965 by Viking in New York, How the Heather Looks has become a prized favorite among knowledgeable lovers of children’s literature. Precious, well-thumbed copies have been lent out with caution and reluctance, while new admirers have gone searching in vain for copies to buy second-hand. This handsome reprint, with a new Afterword by Joan Bodger, makes a unique and delightful classic available once more.

30 review for How the Heather Looks: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books

  1. 4 out of 5

    Louise / Daisy May Johnson

    Poorly written in places, intensely poignant in places, How the Heather Looks is a strange book which, in a way, taught me more about my attitude towards children's literature rather than teaching me about it. I am, at present, engaged in a bit of a project to try and find a book for every for every county in the UK and so How The Heather Looks has a curious relevance for me right now. I'm becoming fascinated with the roots of story, in the points where the imaginary and the real world connect, Poorly written in places, intensely poignant in places, How the Heather Looks is a strange book which, in a way, taught me more about my attitude towards children's literature rather than teaching me about it. I am, at present, engaged in a bit of a project to try and find a book for every for every county in the UK and so How The Heather Looks has a curious relevance for me right now. I'm becoming fascinated with the roots of story, in the points where the imaginary and the real world connect, and how they spiral into different and yet somehow weirdly familiar locations. And I'm fascinated with how, sometimes, when you visit the real world settings of these books, when you sit on Lyra and Will's bench or catch sight of Ratty's Thames out of the window, that it feels a little like you're falling from one world into the next. That if you close your eyes, that if you hold your breath, you're in Narnia or at Flambards or in the kitchen at the Fossils house. That's magic to me, pure and effortless magic, and it's a sort of intoxicating magic. It's powerful and when you feel it, you want more of it. You just do. You can't even help it any more. And this book is full of magic. Bodger's references have perhaps dated a little and her fixed (forced?) outsider perspective may occasionally grate but there are moments when you just forget all that because she gets you. She gets you in that sort of breathless way every fan of something understands, that moment when you see the thing you love in real life, that moment when you see the makers and creators and you realise that you just admire them and love them, really, that you can't quite speak and you can't quite exist in the real world any more. You've fallen through the gaps, you're in the imaginary and there's no way you're going back. Bodger's family journey, occasionally blindly and perhaps naively, through the United Kingdom with this sort of intense wonder throughout. There are chapters which are easy to skim through, lightly, but then she falls into somehow interviewing Arthur Ransome ("What's this?" he asked. "What's this?") or Mrs Milne (who, rather marvellously, berates them about the incorrect size over their teddy Piglet). Bodger is not the best writer. But she is, at heart, a fan. A loving, obsessed, foolish, impressionable fan. And I have walked and I am walking in those shoes. This is a lovely book, (and, if I am being honest, it is one that is ripe for a modern day version).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This book kidnapped my imagination in a way I was hardly expecting it to. Bodger narrates a trip she took with her husband and two children to the UK with one purpose in mind: finding the real geographical points/locations of their beloved children's books. This seems silly and a wild goose chase, but as they did research, they found (as do you as the reader) that many of these fictional lands are rooted in the real surroundings of the author's lives. It was interesting to read just how willing B This book kidnapped my imagination in a way I was hardly expecting it to. Bodger narrates a trip she took with her husband and two children to the UK with one purpose in mind: finding the real geographical points/locations of their beloved children's books. This seems silly and a wild goose chase, but as they did research, they found (as do you as the reader) that many of these fictional lands are rooted in the real surroundings of the author's lives. It was interesting to read just how willing Bodger was to see the reality of her kid's favorite stories. Sometimes they actually found the real house of such a character while other times it was just the right person/animal at the right moment that allowed them to see a story unfold. But her openness to look for the possible realness in something like Peter Rabbit, was lovely to read. Her children's love of the stories and of history was also fascinating to see as they visited different towns. Bodger uses a great combination of background research, excerpts from the story being hunted down, and history that allows someone (like me) who is not familiar with the books enjoy their travels and discoveries just the same. For example, while looking for Sherwood Forest Bodger briefly speculates as to who Robin Hood could have actually been. Her family's spontaneity, love of history, and ability to roll with the punches makes this a really fun book that I hated to see come to an end. I borrowed this from the library, but will be purchasing a copy for myself.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    If you like the English countryside and you like certain classics of English literature for children, you must read this. Chapters vary in their appeal to me; I did not get much into the search for King Arthur's country, much more nebulous than (say) trying to explore The River in Kenneth Grahame-land or walk the Hundred Acre Wood. A daring call on Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons, reputed to be a grouch and a misanthrope, gave a nice surprise. This was written too early for Watership Down, o If you like the English countryside and you like certain classics of English literature for children, you must read this. Chapters vary in their appeal to me; I did not get much into the search for King Arthur's country, much more nebulous than (say) trying to explore The River in Kenneth Grahame-land or walk the Hundred Acre Wood. A daring call on Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons, reputed to be a grouch and a misanthrope, gave a nice surprise. This was written too early for Watership Down, one of the great novels of place, to be visited. My daughter and I had the delightful experience of getting a letter from Richard Adams in which he told us what topo map of Berkshire covers the region. I don't know how much public access there would be to that area now.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Mcfarlane

    Lovely, enchanting book about a family retracing the roots of stories and illustrations from famous British Children's Literature. My favorite quote: "T.H. White was all his life concerned with the clash of Might and Right, the relationship of Big and Little. One might say that this is the central them of English children's literature; indeed, of English history. It is well to remember that Anne Frank was held, and finally crushed, by men who had never known- or had lost- all sense of proportion. Lovely, enchanting book about a family retracing the roots of stories and illustrations from famous British Children's Literature. My favorite quote: "T.H. White was all his life concerned with the clash of Might and Right, the relationship of Big and Little. One might say that this is the central them of English children's literature; indeed, of English history. It is well to remember that Anne Frank was held, and finally crushed, by men who had never known- or had lost- all sense of proportion. If such a sense -a common sense- is created through play, then we must learn to respect play's importance and give it free rein." I've recently come across a recently-published book called Are We Nearly There Yet: A Family's 8000-Mile Car Journey Around Britain, so I'm curious to compare the experiences of a traveling family in the 50's to this one in the 21st century :-)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    This was a delightful book about an American family in 1958 making a journey to Britain to see if they could discover different locations written about in the books they read and loved. The author, Joan Bodger, her husband John and their two children, Ian (almost 9) and Lucy (age 2) share this once-in-a-lifetime adventure—a true pilgrimage of love and literature. As I read I spent a lot of time looking up locations up on the internet, and searching for photographs of places and information about This was a delightful book about an American family in 1958 making a journey to Britain to see if they could discover different locations written about in the books they read and loved. The author, Joan Bodger, her husband John and their two children, Ian (almost 9) and Lucy (age 2) share this once-in-a-lifetime adventure—a true pilgrimage of love and literature. As I read I spent a lot of time looking up locations up on the internet, and searching for photographs of places and information about books mentioned. One of the lovely things about a book like this is you come away with a list of books you can't wait to seek out to read or revisit. Wonderful and informative reading for anyone who loves children's literature.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melody Schwarting

    A sparkling literary travelogue of the sites of British children's books. Written in the late 1950s, it doesn't quite have everything we'd think of now as classic British children's literature. Paddington, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and other '50s publications get a few mentions, but Joan Bodger had not read them as a child, and they were fresh off the presses. (Wouldn't it have been lovely if they had met grumpy Lewis [already on faculty at Cambridge by their time] and family man Tolkien?) Perso A sparkling literary travelogue of the sites of British children's books. Written in the late 1950s, it doesn't quite have everything we'd think of now as classic British children's literature. Paddington, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and other '50s publications get a few mentions, but Joan Bodger had not read them as a child, and they were fresh off the presses. (Wouldn't it have been lovely if they had met grumpy Lewis [already on faculty at Cambridge by their time] and family man Tolkien?) Personally, I relished the passages about Frances Hodgson Burnett, the tales of Robin Hood, the speculation Arthur and his history, all the bits about Kenneth Grahame, and of course everything about Potter and the Lake District. Having recently come home from a literary pilgrimage to Hill Top Farm myself, I found her recounting of traipsing over the countryside wonderful. Travel has certainly changed since the 1950s. Bodger's self-consciousness about her American ways was quite funny. Recommended to those who enjoy the connection between books and their places, particularly of children's literature. Having grown up with the privilege of visiting Laura Ingalls Wilder's homes and Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, I loved hearing about Bodger's children experiencing similar reveries. "Now I see more clearly how a truth, too big to be expressed except in art or poetry, can hitch itself to a landscape. The process of attachment engenders another dimension to the idea, enlarges it and makes it visible through time as myth incarnate (if you consider the planet a living being). The myth may fade, the place may lose significance, but like a sleeping hero, like a recumbent goddess, the truth will remain. When the time is right it will emerge to support what needs to be expressed. Then the landscape will be rediscovered, the story told again, the truth revealed for a new age." (232)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    There is a lot packed in these pages. It is a travel diary, a record of a special summer spent with family, a literary memoir of books read to children, and an inspiration to go as close to the source as possible to get first-hand information. The 1999 edition includes an afterword which lets you know that there was much more to this family's story and that the book in spite of everything not turning out "happily ever after," would become a cherished book for future readers. In addition to the a There is a lot packed in these pages. It is a travel diary, a record of a special summer spent with family, a literary memoir of books read to children, and an inspiration to go as close to the source as possible to get first-hand information. The 1999 edition includes an afterword which lets you know that there was much more to this family's story and that the book in spite of everything not turning out "happily ever after," would become a cherished book for future readers. In addition to the afterword, there are notes for further reading and there is an index. Chapter One: Caledcott Country (Whitechurch, 30 miles from Liverpool) Randolph Caldecott, (1846 - 1886) an early illustrator for children's books, had lived in Whitechurch as a young man, but its library only had his biography and none of the 16 children's books he had illustrated. As the family explored the town, they found that the name of Randolph Calecott wasn't much revered or remembered, but in the surrounding countryside, they saw some of the same landscape scenes he had captured almost 100 years previously. Chapter Two: The Open Road (Shrewsbury to Monmouth past Tintern Abbey to Chapstow to Gloucester to Bristol to renting a caravan in the country outside of Cornwall. While on the trip, they looked at scenes from Beatrix Potter's The Tailor of Gloucester and in Bristol, the harbor where Treasure Island was set (before the Hispaniola sailed). Chapter Three: A Peak in Narnia (two weeks in the caravan and the surrounding countryside) They rented a caravan and cooked in a "kitchen" made over in an abandoned chicken coop. Their son Ian was able to explore the surrounding moor and Lucy proclaimed she saw a mermaid. Both the children and their mother found a very special ancient chapel behind sand dunes. Chapter Four: In Quest of Arthur (Tintagel to Glastonbury) Many scenes from several authors came to mind in this chapter (Charles Kingsley's Westward Ho!, Rudyard Kipling's Stalky & Co. and Puck of Pook's Hill, Richard Blackmore's Lorna Doone, Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter, Artur Ransome's books, and Katherine Hull and Pamela Whitlock's Oxus books); however, the family tried to let Ian see that the Athurian legend had a basis in the geography of Great Britain. He and his mother explored an ancient castle's under cove, getting separated while the tide came in. All ended well, however. Chapter Five: Down to Camelot (Glastonbury) Although it is all wrapped in various legends; in this chapter, while little sister Lucy slept in the car, Ian and his parents explored a hillside groove to find where they felt Arthur's Palace may have been. Another book coming to mind was Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Lantern Bearers about the Romans, the British, and the Saxons. Chapter Six The River Bank (Thames River) As they arrived in Maidenhead, they remembered Hugh Lofting was born there (Doctor Dolittle). Of course, they were hoping to see scenes from Kenneth Graham's The Wind in the Willows (illustrated by Ernest Shepard). They did find a civilized inn at which to spend several days. They remembered that the lady who had rented the caravan to them had said that Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was Kenneth Grahame's close personal friend, and that Kenneth Grahame had spent boating time in Fowey visiting Quiller-Couch (Cornwall). So, while in Maidenhead, they rented a boat to explore the river. From the river, they decided that two stately homes may have been the models of Toad Hall: Mapledurham and Hardwick House. After the river, they explored the thatched homes of Blewbury. Spending several days and even going to a home where Kenneth Grahame had lived, they returned to picnic on the river's edge and spoke again to the gruff man who had rented them a boat earlier. As Ian quoted The Wind in the Willows without thinking ("simply messing about in boats . . . "), the boat owner remembered Kenneth Grahame walking past him and always saying "There's noting, absolutely nothing, like messing about in boats . . ." Chapter Seven Johnny Crow's Garden (Harwell) L. Leslie Brooke (1862 - 1940) was an illustrator as well as an author, and the family went looking for scene's from his books. Lucy and her mother found a cottage and its lady of the house standing outside. They were able to go inside and see how compact and clean it was inside, as well as how amateur but solidly the house had been built. The author (Joan Bodger) decided this must have been the scene of the home of the crooked man with the crooked can and the crooked mouse. The home's lady shared that some years previously, she had hoped to move into a more up-to-date and easier to keep home. However, she had become attached to the unique properties of the home and now wanted to stay. Chapter Eight: Looking at History (heading, the long way, to Tunbridge Wells) The family traveled to New Forest to look for scenes from Captain Marryat's Children of the New Forest, thinking of the death of William II. Then they headed to Tunbridge Wells, hoping to find more of Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill, A. A. Milne's home in New Forest, and Rosemary Sutcliffe's The Lantern Bearers. For the multi-level histories contained in Puck of Pook's Hill, they visited Bateman's, Kipling's farm in Burwash. Later, they explored Roman ruins at Pevensey. Here, William of Normandy came into England. Chapter Nine: Little Countries of the Mind (Ashdown Forest, Northampton) The family visited with Mrs. Milne at the home where Christopher Robin grew up. As Lucy presented her stuffed Piglet, Mrs. Milne exclaimed that Piglet must be much smaller, small enough to slip in a child's pocket. On the way to Pooh-stick Bridge, some large turkeys and a goose made little Lucy grasp her mother's hand tight. This brought the lines of "Us Two" to Joan and Ian's mind, so Ian shouted "Shoo!" and the birds ran off. After they left Mrs. Milne, they traveled about two miles and over a barbed wire fence to get to the Enchanted Place. Ian kept a pine cone in his pocket for the memory of that hill. After Ashdown Forest, the family went on to look for Malplaquet in T. H. White's Mistress Masham's Repose. This led to a trip to Stowe House, a huge former home and gardens of the Buckingham. Alexander Pope had stayed there. T. H. White had taught school at Stowe School, Bucks. They were able to visit, even though things were closed due to a bank holiday. They felt like miniature people. Although they weren't able to visit the Bedford jail where John Bunyan spent 12 years, but were able to imagine the geography of Pilgim's Progress. Mary Norton's The Borrowers next called the family to Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. They were not able to visit Firbank Hall, Perkin's Beck, nor Mrs. May's cottage. Chapter Ten: Forests, Moors, and Gardens (Nottingham and Sherwood Forest, Harrogate, Edinburggh) They were disappointed that the forest was now home to sheep pastures, but they did find the Major Oak and realized that men could have hidden in its branches. In visiting Harrogate moors, Joan compared Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre with Frances Burnett's The Secret Garden. Later, after visiting circus people and an uncle of Joan's, they traveled to Scotland looking for Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. The closest they came in his city memorial was to happen on a street lamp lighter, propping his ladder against a lamp post and climbing up to clean the lamp and trim the wick. Later, when they drove out to his maternal grandparents' country home (Colinton Manse), they found the beautiful place where Robert Louis had played with his many cousins. Chapter Eleven: Beyond the Door (the Lake District) Looking for Arthur Ransome's Swallowdale and Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Joan was actually able to sit down with Arthur Ransome and his wife for an evening interview! How it came about and what she was told are interesting to read. Later, as Lucy and Joan and Ian went looking for Little-town, they found a farm with the same name. Speaking with the lady of the house, she wondered why they were asking about Mrs. Tiggy-Winkles. However, her farming husband knew what they meant. His mother had been a friend of Mrs. Heelis (Beatrix Potter) and had a memento of his mother's to show them. Joan asked him to be sure to show his own children the wonderful treasure. As he got busy sawing the horns off of a protesting ram, the whole family decided to follow a mountainside path away from the farm. It seemed to be taking them up to the clouds. Lucy started looking for Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's door in the mountain terrain. She didn't find it, but Ian looked down the valley and saw the forest of bronze and purple heather. It's at this point that he shouted, "Now I know how the heather looks!"

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    I LOVED THIS BOOK! If you've ever read Puck of Pook's Hill, Wind in the Willows, stories of King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc., you will too. Essentially, this is the story of a trip taken by the author Joan Bodger with her husband and two children to discover the "roots" of their most beloved British children's literature. So they drive through the English countryside looking for Toad Hall, or Pook's Hill, or Piglet's house...I just loved this book. The writing was beautifully lyrical in keeping wit I LOVED THIS BOOK! If you've ever read Puck of Pook's Hill, Wind in the Willows, stories of King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc., you will too. Essentially, this is the story of a trip taken by the author Joan Bodger with her husband and two children to discover the "roots" of their most beloved British children's literature. So they drive through the English countryside looking for Toad Hall, or Pook's Hill, or Piglet's house...I just loved this book. The writing was beautifully lyrical in keeping with the stories it was tracing, and it was absolutely fascinating to read about all the different places that gave impetutus to some of my most beloved stories (and illustrations). And the narrative is enchanting, too...it's not dry or pedantic. One of Neil's lab buddies gave this book to me to read when I was in the hospital with Juliet (his mother, a professor of children's literature, had recommended it) and I couldn't put it down!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mythlee

    A sweet story of a family of four on a pre-internet quest to find the literary landscapes, gardens, and buildings that had seized their imaginations. From a modern perspective, they are almost comically underprepared -- they have few leads and few concrete plans (even for accommodations), naively counting on help from the locals. One very charming note - the little one, Lucy (age 2), takes it for granted that they can walk into the pages of her favorite picture-books. The Afterword offers an inte A sweet story of a family of four on a pre-internet quest to find the literary landscapes, gardens, and buildings that had seized their imaginations. From a modern perspective, they are almost comically underprepared -- they have few leads and few concrete plans (even for accommodations), naively counting on help from the locals. One very charming note - the little one, Lucy (age 2), takes it for granted that they can walk into the pages of her favorite picture-books. The Afterword offers an interesting corrective for those who imagine this memoir depicts an ideal family on an idyllic travel-quest; the author shares several misfortunes (including illness and divorce) that followed on the heels of the adventure and its publication. A reminder, if needed, that any memoir presents only a particular slice of the story, for particular purposes. I've given it 3 stars, since I liked it; those who are in love with more of the books under discussion will like it even more.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I absolutely loved this book. I loved how Joan took her family on a journey to find the places used in some of our favorite children's stories. I wanted to be right there with them hunting down the places and talking to people; discovering the imaginative places in the stories we read and finding them to be places authors used as springboards to give us beautiful places to think of in our minds. I will treasure this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "Over fifty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children's books. As Bodger recounts their adventures through Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Jemima Puddle-Duck's farm, and many more beloved fairy tale locations, she brings alive the magic of the stories we love to remember. She persuades us that, like Emily Dickinson, even if we 'have never seen a moor,' we can imagine 'how the heather loo "Over fifty years ago, Joan Bodger, her husband, and two children went to Britain on a family quest. They were seeking the world that they knew and loved through children's books. As Bodger recounts their adventures through Winnie-the-Pooh Country, Jemima Puddle-Duck's farm, and many more beloved fairy tale locations, she brings alive the magic of the stories we love to remember. She persuades us that, like Emily Dickinson, even if we 'have never seen a moor,' we can imagine 'how the heather looks.' First published in 1965, How the Heather Looks, has become a prized favorite among lovers of children's literature." ~~back cover Oh dear. I feel like the Ugly American, as this book wasn't one of my favorites. Their travels seemed disjointed and poorly planned -- even though that wasn't the case at all, and since they traveled in 1958 (I was in high school in 1958! Impossibly long ago!), they didn't have the benefit of the Internet to help with their research. I think my tepid reception is down to two causes: 1. I hadn't read most of the books they talked about and so had no fond childhood memories to hook me into the book. Although I've lately become a Swallows and Amazons fan and hugely enjoyed Joan's meeting with Arthur Ransome. I also enjoyed the bit about the Lake District, having been there, and especially their travels to Near and Far Sawrey, since I enjoy Beatrix Potter so much. 2. There was so little interaction, really, with the English people other than innkeepers and proprietors of bed-and-breakfasts, which is always what I enjoy in a book about England. Aside from those few people, they seemed to be traveling in their own American bubble, which I found offputting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emmkay

    A wonderful memoir of an American family's trip to Britain in the 1950s with their young children, to seek out the places represented in British children's books. They drive about staying in inns and B and B's, they camp in a caravan for a couple of weeks, they "mess about in boats" Swallows-and-Amazons-style, they hunt for Toad Hall and Avalon and The Enchanted Place in Winnie-the-Pooh. There are digressions (for example, about thatch), and frustrations (rain, laundry, dead ends), and it is cle A wonderful memoir of an American family's trip to Britain in the 1950s with their young children, to seek out the places represented in British children's books. They drive about staying in inns and B and B's, they camp in a caravan for a couple of weeks, they "mess about in boats" Swallows-and-Amazons-style, they hunt for Toad Hall and Avalon and The Enchanted Place in Winnie-the-Pooh. There are digressions (for example, about thatch), and frustrations (rain, laundry, dead ends), and it is clear that doing research on the fly before the Internet with a 9 and a 2 year old in tow was sometimes less than reliable. I was familiar with some but not all of the books, but it didn't matter. I enjoyed it tremendously. Quite magical.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maria Elmvang

    Somehow I had managed to misunderstand what the book was about, so in case others are under the same misconception, I'll state it clearly. This is not a book about books. It's a book about the scenery of books. As such, it is a very charming travel account, but as I only knew very few of the books listed (probably one of the problems with only having grown up with those English books that have been translated to Danish), and don't care much about book settings in the first place, I probably didn Somehow I had managed to misunderstand what the book was about, so in case others are under the same misconception, I'll state it clearly. This is not a book about books. It's a book about the scenery of books. As such, it is a very charming travel account, but as I only knew very few of the books listed (probably one of the problems with only having grown up with those English books that have been translated to Danish), and don't care much about book settings in the first place, I probably didn't get as much out of it as a reader who grew up loving "Wind in the Willows", Beatrix Potter and "Winnie the Pooh".

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I loved this memoir of a family's trip to Great Britian in the late 1950's in search of the actual places where famous children's books were set. I certainly wish I could have seen the river where Water Rat and Mole might have boated, the place where Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle did her laundry, and the settings for Caldecott's illustrations. They even got to meet Christopher Robin's mother and play poohsticks from the bridge! I later learned, from her obituary, that Joan didn't have a perfect life, but sh I loved this memoir of a family's trip to Great Britian in the late 1950's in search of the actual places where famous children's books were set. I certainly wish I could have seen the river where Water Rat and Mole might have boated, the place where Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle did her laundry, and the settings for Caldecott's illustrations. They even got to meet Christopher Robin's mother and play poohsticks from the bridge! I later learned, from her obituary, that Joan didn't have a perfect life, but she gave us a perfect, memorable journey in this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Colette Stine

    It took me about three weeks to get through the first chapter, then I finished the rest of this book in two days. It isn’t the best written, most fascinating book I’ve ever read, but there’s something about it that is utterly enchanting. There are a few things in it that are shocking to our modern minds. The first and biggest thing is that the author, her husband, and their two year old daughter shared a room in one hotel, while their eight year old son had his own room in a completely different h It took me about three weeks to get through the first chapter, then I finished the rest of this book in two days. It isn’t the best written, most fascinating book I’ve ever read, but there’s something about it that is utterly enchanting. There are a few things in it that are shocking to our modern minds. The first and biggest thing is that the author, her husband, and their two year old daughter shared a room in one hotel, while their eight year old son had his own room in a completely different hotel down the street! Craziness. In another instance, the little girl is left sleeping in the back of the car while the rest of them go explore a historical site. Also crazy. Musta been nice to live in times when it was safe to do things like that. I can’t imagine ever being comfortable with a little kid on their own like that. The book chronicles the adventure of the Bodger family as they search out and visit sites from their favorite British books. They have all kinds of adventures, from running into smugglers when they stop for tea to meeting Christopher Robin’s mother to an interview with Arthur Ransome to seeing in real life places they were accustomed to knowing only through the illustrations of books to interactions with gypsies. There are many books like this these days, but I imagine this was one of the first of its kind. In spite of my early disappointment in and reservations about this book, I found that I loved it and was left wanting more when the Bodger family headed back to their ship for their voyage home to America. I loved that this book about books included so much history and geography, as well as human interest stories. It’s perfectly clean and family friendly, and I’m gong to watch for a copy for my own bookshelves.

  16. 5 out of 5

    M-N

    I loved this, an American, Joan Bodger, a writer and herAcademic husband and two young kids (8 and 2)travel the UK to discover the landscape and houses of their favourite children's stories and illustrations, with over all success. Its an odyssey and as its the 1950's they just relied on inns., B&B s in the Lady magazine or any they came across , even a caravan though romantic was freezing due to typical unseasonable breaks in the weather. I thought it delightful and would be inspired to do the s I loved this, an American, Joan Bodger, a writer and herAcademic husband and two young kids (8 and 2)travel the UK to discover the landscape and houses of their favourite children's stories and illustrations, with over all success. Its an odyssey and as its the 1950's they just relied on inns., B&B s in the Lady magazine or any they came across , even a caravan though romantic was freezing due to typical unseasonable breaks in the weather. I thought it delightful and would be inspired to do the same as your journey and discoveries though different would capture the magic or let you pass through the magic door again into childhood. If you have a copy like me do not read the afterword it broke my hearts and then I did digging on what happened to them all in the years afterwards and its tragic. Don't do it ..The afterword has tainted the book for me with sorrow which is a shame as its such a joyous book ...Apparently this was the most stolen book by retiring librarians and rightly so as treasures such as this as the years passed were put into storage, withdrawn and sold and disregarded which is disgraceful,...Culling the most hated word to any librarian worth their salt...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I wanted so badly to love this book...I expected to love it. Travel memoir meets British children's literature? Right up my alley. But I didn't love it. It's a pretty short book but it took me over two weeks to read! I love the idea of it. Some parts were really sweet and touching and thoughtful and well written, but a lot of it was a bit dull and seemed to drag on. And I was surprised by how many of the books mentioned I hadn't read, or how many sections I didn't really have any interest in (th I wanted so badly to love this book...I expected to love it. Travel memoir meets British children's literature? Right up my alley. But I didn't love it. It's a pretty short book but it took me over two weeks to read! I love the idea of it. Some parts were really sweet and touching and thoughtful and well written, but a lot of it was a bit dull and seemed to drag on. And I was surprised by how many of the books mentioned I hadn't read, or how many sections I didn't really have any interest in (the King Arthur chapter, for example). I don't know. Overall it was just okay, a bit of a disappointment. (I wished I hadn't read the afterward! The family seems so sweet and happy in the book, but the afterward revealed some depressing facts about them afterwards...the husband and wife divorced, the daughter had a brain tumor, etc.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Wilson

    If I had read this book along with taking children's literature in college, my life might have taken a whole new turn - simply because, I wouldn't have been able to embark on this trip without my librarian grandmother. Hence, I would have had to rob a bank for necessary funds. Anyone who is in love with children's literature, written by British authors, will adore this book. It is definitely dated, but the book was a delightful romp down memory lane accompanied by beloved authors of my childhood If I had read this book along with taking children's literature in college, my life might have taken a whole new turn - simply because, I wouldn't have been able to embark on this trip without my librarian grandmother. Hence, I would have had to rob a bank for necessary funds. Anyone who is in love with children's literature, written by British authors, will adore this book. It is definitely dated, but the book was a delightful romp down memory lane accompanied by beloved authors of my childhood (1950's -60's) with whom I have since been happily revisiting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

    Read this book long ago, wish I could read it again, but it’s out of print, and used copies cost $80! It’s a lovely book about an American family’s travels in England in search of places where children’s books took place; authors like Kenneth Graham, Arthur Ransome, Frances Hodgson Burnett lived and wrote.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Thomas

    A nostalgic look at British children's literature and the landscape that inspired it. Dated, but interesting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Lord

    So incredible! I will definitely use this as a guidebook when I go to England.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

    Delightful and charming. It's fun to read books that are about books I've read, a different sort of nostalgia.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carys

    Enjoyable particularly the interview with Arthur Ransome

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Delightful read through England

  25. 5 out of 5

    Austen to Zafón

    In the late 50's, when her children were, I believe, 2 or 3 and 9, she and her husband took them to England for an extended trip during which they visited places relevant to the many children's books they had all read. Some of them are books you don't hear much about these days (such as Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill," "Johnny Crow," and Caldecott's illustrated verses), but many are familiar: "The Wind in the Willows," "The Tailor of Gloucester," "The Chronicles of Narnia," and "Swallows and Ama In the late 50's, when her children were, I believe, 2 or 3 and 9, she and her husband took them to England for an extended trip during which they visited places relevant to the many children's books they had all read. Some of them are books you don't hear much about these days (such as Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill," "Johnny Crow," and Caldecott's illustrated verses), but many are familiar: "The Wind in the Willows," "The Tailor of Gloucester," "The Chronicles of Narnia," and "Swallows and Amazons," for example. Joan Bodger eventually became a world-class oral storyteller, but this book keeps us at a bit of a distance. I learned why later. Still, I really enjoyed hearing about their adventures and mishaps trying to find King Arthur, Toad Hall, and Beatrix Potter's farm. My one warning is don't do what I did and read about her before you read the book. Just enjoy the book for what it is. By knowing what happened after the book, it was hard for me not to read into every page the signs of the future. Wait until you're done with the book, if you're curious.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    I didn't know going into this that a prerequisite to enjoying this book would include brushing up on a broad spectrum of English literature (not just children's) and geography. The geography I kept up on as I read the book alongside an atlas of the British Isle, and that was helpful and quite interesting. There were so many references to English literature with which I am unfamiliar or had forgotten about. I wish there had been a booklist included at the beginning of it, listing every work the au I didn't know going into this that a prerequisite to enjoying this book would include brushing up on a broad spectrum of English literature (not just children's) and geography. The geography I kept up on as I read the book alongside an atlas of the British Isle, and that was helpful and quite interesting. There were so many references to English literature with which I am unfamiliar or had forgotten about. I wish there had been a booklist included at the beginning of it, listing every work the author mentions, because having read more of those books (for instance, Swallows and Amazons which I have recently purchased but not gotten to yet, and The Once and Future King which I am reading now as a result of this book) would have made this chronicle much more satisfying. I was familiar with Winnie-the-Pooh, several of the Beatrix Potter stories, and the Wind in the Willows, as well as a few others I can't recall presently, so the chapters that dealt with their authors and locations were fun to read. The rest of the book was a struggle for me, and I almost gave up several times. In the end, I'm glad I read it, and now have my next few books planned out. I also am slightly more familiar with English geography. :-)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Spinneretta

    Written back in the late 1950s, this is the tale of one family's travels around Britain, in search of the sites featured in their favourite children's books. It is a fun read, capturing a taste of life just before things started changing in that country. The story is engaging, and well written. The adventures they have are often inconceivable today, though it evokes imagery from many children's books written back around that time. The author even got to meet some of the people she was writing about Written back in the late 1950s, this is the tale of one family's travels around Britain, in search of the sites featured in their favourite children's books. It is a fun read, capturing a taste of life just before things started changing in that country. The story is engaging, and well written. The adventures they have are often inconceivable today, though it evokes imagery from many children's books written back around that time. The author even got to meet some of the people she was writing about, or at least their close relatives! Informative tidbits are sprinkled throughout, with selections from the books they were chasing. It is sure to make you want to read some of these children's favourites (or re-read them as the case may be). This snapshot of what appears to be an idyllic family, is made more poignant when you discover that the author's daughter died just a few years later at the age of 7, and that both her husband and son were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Despite all that, the book is very much worth reading.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sooz

    considering this is such a slim little book, it certainly took me long enough to get through it. it's one of those books you can easily pick up, read a few pages and put down. when next you visit - it is like time stood still and the the family is right where you left them. i can only imagine how much more enjoyable this book would be for someone who was more familiar with the stories and poems the family investigates for, without a doubt, the best parts for me are when she is talking about some considering this is such a slim little book, it certainly took me long enough to get through it. it's one of those books you can easily pick up, read a few pages and put down. when next you visit - it is like time stood still and the the family is right where you left them. i can only imagine how much more enjoyable this book would be for someone who was more familiar with the stories and poems the family investigates for, without a doubt, the best parts for me are when she is talking about something i did read -or had read to me- when i was young. there was a magical element to her writing -a perfect moment captured in time - that made me feel sad at times, knowing the tyrant of time had long since swept this family -as they were at during that perfect moment- away. when i'd finished and read the afterword i almost cried to learn what had befallen them shortly after their summer romp through winnie the pooh and wind in the willows country.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Gillespie

    The book chronicles a fabulous trip undertaken by an American family of four in the 1950s, in which they traveled around the UK finding locations of all of their favorite children’s literature. I have LONG wanted to try something similar, visiting all of the spots I’ve read about all of my life, and it was pure pleasure to read about someone who had actually done so! The book was very well written and researched, and helpful in reminding me of books I read in childhood but haven’t remembered to The book chronicles a fabulous trip undertaken by an American family of four in the 1950s, in which they traveled around the UK finding locations of all of their favorite children’s literature. I have LONG wanted to try something similar, visiting all of the spots I’ve read about all of my life, and it was pure pleasure to read about someone who had actually done so! The book was very well written and researched, and helpful in reminding me of books I read in childhood but haven’t remembered to read to my own kids, plus many more I never read (sadly, many of which are out of print). Apparently–although I’m not sure how you’d find this statistic–How the Heather Looks is the book most stolen by retiring librarians! I can’t countenance theft, but I can understand why they do it. {Read my full review here}

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Fowler

    This book is an account of a trip to England which the Canadian author and her family made in 1959 to seek out, as the subtitle reveals, “the British sources of children’s books.” Based on the inclinations of Bodger and her literature professor husband, and in order to enlist the enthusiastic participation of their two young children, the family focused their travels on locales with links to children’s books and authors they all revered. This book is an account of their journey, but also a medit This book is an account of a trip to England which the Canadian author and her family made in 1959 to seek out, as the subtitle reveals, “the British sources of children’s books.” Based on the inclinations of Bodger and her literature professor husband, and in order to enlist the enthusiastic participation of their two young children, the family focused their travels on locales with links to children’s books and authors they all revered. This book is an account of their journey, but also a meditation on what it is that makes these books classics, what it is that makes them appeal to children and adults alike. I enjoyed it on many levels: as a lover of children’s literature, as a lover of travel literature, and as an Anglophile.

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